Penguins at Islanders Picks and NHL Game 4 Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 5/7/2013
It was a mistake to totally discount and overlook these New York Islanders. Their core of talent is excellent, led by John Tavares — truly an elite talent in the NHL at this point. They are well-coached, have a veteran goaltender, and have proved how determined and resilient they are by grabbing and hanging onto a playoff spot in a brutal race to the finish in the Eastern Conference.
I respect the team immensely, and against any team other than Pittsburgh I would have given them a chance to make things interesting. The Penguins just seem too tough and too deep for any team in the East, though — never mind this one.
Imagine my surprise, then, that the Islanders are making this series very interesting. I never imagined it happening, and I like the team more than most. After getting blown out in the series opener, the Islanders brushed themselves off and got serious. They came back to win 4-3 in the second game despite a strong return to action from Sidney Crosby that included two goals that could have broken the back of lesser teams. In Game 3 they got an early two-goal lead, threw it away by allowing four unanswered goals, but then fought back to force overtime and then had a couple of good chances of their own before allowing Pittsburgh to score on the power play. The Islanders will very likely still lose this series, but they have served notice that they aren’t going down without a fight.
Penguins at Islanders Betting storylines
Sidney Crosby has, for the most part, looked like he hasn’t missed a beat since returning from injury. He was out all of April with a broken jaw, but he scored two goals in his first game back, and three in his second. Despite point production that is impressive even for him, though, there is clearly some rust. It’s not with him so much as with how the team is responding to him. Individually he is finding chemistry with linemates, but the team still seems to be unsure of how exactly to deal with him being back in the lineup. It’s almost as if they are deferring to him a bit too much and looking for him to provide a bit too much leadership. It’s not that surprising given that the lineup has changed lately — Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla had just joined the team when he was hurt, and they would be conscious of not trying to be too assertive in their leadership because they were both long-time captains on their former teams. It’s not a dramatic issue, but it is palpable. It should get better with time, though. This is his third game back, so the team should start showing more cohesive play now and going forward.
Another factor that has made things somewhat challenging for the Penguins is their injury situation. Brooks Orpik has been out since the last two games of the regular season, and James Neal has missed the last two games of the playoffs. Both are important contributors, and both are questionable for Tuesday. The Islanders are very healthy, so this gives them an edge — in confidence as much as anything.
The Islanders have played well as a team the last two games. The one guy who has really stood out to me, though, is winger Kyle Okposo. He had just 24 points in 48 games during the regular season but has two goals and an assist in the last two. He has been relentless as well, and that has really set the tone for his line and beyond. If he can keep it up, the team can make things interesting.
Penguins at Islanders NHL Game 4 Odds and Betting Trends
Pittsburgh is 4-0 in their last four road games against teams with a losing home record (The Isles are 10-11-4 at home). Four of the last five Pittsburgh road games have gone “under” the total. The Islanders have just one win in their last six. Pittsburgh has won six of their last seven in New York.
Penguins at Islanders Picks and Betting Predictions
I don’t think that this is a great betting game, but it’s the best on a day that doesn’t offer much. I like Pittsburgh a lot. I expect them to win this series, and the Eastern Conference — at least. The way the Islanders are playing, though, there is some value in betting them here as big home underdogs. They are playing fearlessly, and their fans are reacting very positively to this rare playoff appearance. The chances of them pulling off an upset against the Penguins while Pittsburgh is still trying to find their stride is better than the odds suggest. The Islanders are the pick.
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